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The honeymoon is over: Google Shopping for Suppliers is shutting down less than two years after it began offering manufacturers an online platform for selling.
Google “learned a lot” from their pilot B2B online shopping source, their announcement says. June 20 was the last day Google’s supplier e-commerce option was available. Any suppliers who paid a $1,000 fee to participate will be able to access any product data they uploaded to the pilot also through June 20.
Google didn’t say why it’s closing, but the termination could speak volumes to what distribution strategies are most successful. Google Shopping for Suppliers was previously lumped together with AmazonSupply as another formidable distribution competitor. But Google and Amazon were never the same, says David Gordon of Channel Marketing Group, in Amazon & Google’s B-to-B Play.
One fundamental difference is that Amazon operates as an actual distributor, with warehouses and products stocked on shelves. Google Shopping for Suppliers was more “a commerce-enabled communication channel,” he says.
A report from William Blair on the closure of Google Shopping for Suppliers notes: “Distribution is not a price game, it’s a service game. … Google supplied no product knowledge or expertise on the products it was selling.”
It was a disintermediator, a major concern for distributors. Google Shopping for Suppliers cut out the middleman and connected the customer directly with the supplier. But an early review by SearchEngineLand.com showed that Google’s advertising might have been getting in the way of its cornerstone search capabilities and of the customer quickly finding what they were looking for.
Quick and easy is the name of the e-commerce game, but it looks like Google’s version of supply and distribution is leaving the arena as quietly as it entered.